Dorothy Harris

Feeling cross about crosswalks

Working in lovely downtown Sebring, I find myself enamored with the daily hustle and bustle of the business district. From the historic buildings to regularly bumping into folks I know, it's a lot different from being out in the woods every day. There's just one thing I haven't quite gotten the hang of: Crossing the street.

Pedestrian crosswalks are in place and I am careful to use them each time I need to traverse, figuring most folks don't need the surprise of a body popping out from between parked cars as they zip on by. I have found myself growing cross, however, by the outright rudeness of drivers desiring to mow me down.

Florida has a handy pedestrian law listed in the state statues that asserts: "the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger." To summarize, this means attempting to flatten me is probably illegal as well as really mean, yet it happens on an almost daily basis.

It's become so frequent I've been able to identify my most common offenders. Surprise - it is not our snowbirds. Whether they have busy city streets where they hail from or are simply more aware, or willing, to drive slowly, they are not nearly as likely to be the ones I'm running from.

It's the moms flying through, often with kids in car seats, showing no facial expression as they focus on adding me to their to-do list. Have they even the time to deal with the legalities of a hit and run in their busy day? I think not; yet I have had to break into a sprint to evade this type of driver more than a few times. What on earth are they thinking as they bear down on someone in a cross walk or any other place, while driving? Brakes, my female friends, are called for in the case of encountering a person in the roadway. Speeding up or refusing to slow down is just completely wrong.

I do want to mention the guys in big trucks seem to be the most polite. They not only slow down, but often wave, reassuring me they've seen my intention and it's safe to proceed. Chivalry is not completely dead downtown. Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate it.

I am aware the local police had a cross walk operation to crack down on this sort of thing and all I can say is thank goodness. Unfortunately, though, the speeding and aggressive driving continues. Really surprising, I know. I get that everyone is really busy and believe me, if I were stepping out between cars or crossing somewhere not marked out for pedestrians, I'd expect this response. I wouldn't even complain because I'd assume it was my own fault for not crossing where it's marked. When I am in the crosswalk, though, I become annoyed having to bolt for survival. Is common driving courtesy too much to ask for?

How about we strike a deal? I'll try and wait so as not to inconvenience you whenever possible and once I do start across, I'll hustle, I promise. How about you slow down and let me, or others, cross without fearing for our lives?